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Comment: Latest LEDs are Too New To Fail Yet (Score 1) 128

by billstewart (#47422215) Attached to: My most recent energy-saving bulbs last ...

Duh, that should be obvious. The only reason they would have failed is if they were DOA or smoked when I plugged them in or something else was defective or the lamp fell over; bulbs that are supposed to last tens or hundreds of thousands of hours that I put in this year haven't had time to fail.

CFLs are different - they've been out a few years now, and I've had plenty of them fail, and worried about whether dead ones break before I get them out of the house and over to the recyclers.

My most recent not-really-energy-saving bulbs failed in 2-3 months. They were little red night-light bulbs from the dollar store post-Christmas discount, and one can argue that they're "energy-saving" because they're only a few watts (3 or 10 or something), but they were incandescents, not LEDs, so they're really not. I've replaced a couple of them with LEDs that haven't failed yet.

Comment: Re:Rotation (Score 5, Interesting) 54

by Dan East (#47421891) Attached to: Study: Why the Moon's Far Side Looks So Different

But really, did the earth stay hot enough for "a few million years" - hot enough to affect the locked side of the moon more than the other?

The moon has no atmosphere, thus radiation from the earth cannot affect the far side of the moon at all. So obviously, even to this day, the earth still affects "the locked side of the moon more than the other". The question is simply how much. The moon and earth were both molten after the collision, so it was not a matter of the earth being hot enough to melt the moon, but merely the earth imparting energy to prolong the cooling of the near side. No matter what, the near side must have cooled slower than the far side - it's a straightforward matter of thermodynamics. One side of the moon was receiving energy from the earth while the other side was not. The near side didn't need to stay so hot it was incandescent, but merely "softer" so that small impacts would heal more on the near side than the far side, and the duration only needed to be long enough to result in some degree of visible difference, which is what we still see today.

The whole thing sounds plausible to me.

Comment: Re:Climate Change on Slashdot? Bring on the fun! (Score 1) 315

by vtcodger (#47421259) Attached to: Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis

Actually, as a climate skeptic, I've been saying for years that we should all focus on innovative nuclear technologies.

In fairness, some true believers in catastrophic warming warming do support nuclear. In particular NASA's James Hansen -- whatever one may think of his analytic skills -- is an outspoken supporter of replacing fossil fuels with nuclear. However we do need to keep in mind that even a well designed nuclear plant is likely to be managed at times by incompetents -- political appointees, fools, risk takers, or the just plain crazed.. We need nuclear power plant designs that even TEPCO couldn't turn into a regional or global disaster. While such designs are conceivable -- e.g. pebble beds -- they do not currently exist in proven form. And without fail safe designs, large areas of the planet are -- and probably should be -- pretty much off limits to nuclear power.

Is that a solvable problem? Probably. Is anyone trying very hard to solve it? Not that I can see.

Comment: Re:haven't we learned from the last 25 exploits? (Score 1) 67

by dgatwood (#47420303) Attached to: 'Rosetta Flash' Attack Leverages JSONP Callbacks To Steal Credentials

How does one embed "JavaScript URLs" in CSS?

Very easily, and because so few people know it is possible, it's a rather nasty vector for cross-site scripting attacks.

Also you seem to have no idea about where the web is headed or have heard about responsive design and SPA.

I'm well aware of responsive design. I think it's an abomination, because all it does is make it take two page loads to view your site instead of one, by ensuring that I have to first load your broken mobile site, then click the "full version" link. Every single freaking time I end up on a "responsive" mobile version of a website, I find myself locked out of features that I regularly use, and end up having to switch to the full desktop version of the site.

If you need much more than a couple lines of JavaScript and a custom stylesheet to support mobile devices, it invariably means that your site is badly designed (too complex) to begin with, and as soon as you release the mobile version of your site, you're almost certainly going to make me hate your guts and curse your name.

And SPA is even worse. If your site loads significantly faster as a web app, there's something wrong with your site. 99% of the time, most of the resources should be shared across pages, and only the text of the page should be changing. There's usually not an appreciable difference between the "load the full page" case and the "load the body of the page" case from a performance perspective unless something is very, very wrong. There are exceptions, such as storefronts that use precisely the same page layout for every page, but these are exceptions, not the rule, and even then, the extra savings in initial page load time just result in a customer sitting there wondering why there's no data on the page, and thinking your site is broken. The real problem is that every web engineer thinks their site is the exception to this rule, but most of those engineers are wrong.

More to the point, if I'm accessing your site often enough to care about performance, I'm going to download your native app instead of using your mobile site, because it will always be much, much more functional, with fewer limitations, more features, and better performance. If I'm going to your website, it's either because I don't care about performance or, more commonly, it is because your native app is missing features that are only on the full version of your site. Giving me a mobile version won't help with the second case, and the first case is largely unimportant for everybody but the site designers who are trying desperately to shave off a few bytes from their data bill.

BTW, it's possible to do a manifested web app (giving you all the advantages of heavy-duty caching of shared content) without using JavaScript for all your navigation. You just specify the base path of the content directory as an external URL (I forget the details) in the web app manifest. This approach is much, much more user-friendly than a SPA in my experience.

Comment: Re:Climate Change on Slashdot? Bring on the fun! (Score 3, Insightful) 315

by vtcodger (#47418529) Attached to: Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis

A reasonable debate between groups of airheads who have not the slightest idea what they are talking about? That'll be interesting.

Consider that on the one side we have a revealed religion that depends on global climate models that embody all they think they know about climate. The GCMs really do not seem to work. They clearly run way too hot. So that causes a frantic effort to identify what is wrong with the models and fix it? Of course not. The response is to make stuff up, throw excrement, and yell insults at anyone who suggests that maybe there is a need to put a foundation under the "climate science" superstructure.

And there are skeptics who really don't have a theory of their own other than the obvious, and perhaps trivial contention that climate alarmists are ignorant, ill behaved, whack jobs. Never mind that their own behavior frequently is less than exemplary.

And neither side seems to have any conception of the problems entailed in delivering an adequate supply of essentials and luxuries to 10 billion human beings later in this century. Much less any willingness to work at developing realistic solutions to the numerous problems that will be encountered. On the one hand we have a bunch of "green" deus ex machina solutions that probably are going to work poorly when they work at all. On the other there is a belief in the improbable theory that God and an unregulated free market will provide abundance for all without any effort or planning.

Anybody seen any signs of adult behavior in this circus?

Comment: Mysterious "Aurora" attack not so mysterious. (Score 1) 49

by Animats (#47417787) Attached to: DHS Mistakenly Releases 840 Pages of Critical Infrastructure Documents

There's nothing mysterious about this. The problem is that if someone gets control of circuit breakers for large rotating equipment, they may be able to disconnect it, let it get out of sync, and reconnect it. This causes huge stresses on motor and generator windings and may damage larger equipment. This is a classic problem in AC electrical systems. A more technical analysis of the Aurora vulnerability is here.

The attack involves taking over control of a power breaker in the transmission system, one that isn't protected by a device that checks for an in-phase condition. Breakers that are intended to be used during synchronization (such as the ones nearest generators) have such protections, but not all breakers do.

Protective relaying in power systems is complicated, because big transient events occur now and then. A lightning strike is a normal event in transmission systems. The system can tolerate many disruptive events, and you don't want to shut everything down and go to full blackout because the fault detection is overly sensitive. A big inductive load joining the grid looks much like an Aurora attack for the first few cycle or two.

There's a problem with someone reprogramming the setpoints on protective relays. This is the classic "let's make it remotely updatable" problem. It's so much easier today to make things remotely updatable than to send someone to adjust a setting. The Aurora attack requires some of this. There's a lot to be said for hard-wired limits that can't be updated remotely, such as "reclosing beyond 20 degrees of phase error is not allowed, no matter what parameters are downloaded."

Comment: Wait, did $Deity announce a do-over? (Score 1, Interesting) 315

by pla (#47417753) Attached to: Blueprints For Taming the Climate Crisis
Here's what your future will look like if we are to have a shot at preventing devastating climate change

The West Antarctic Ice Shelf has already begun its collapse, guaranteeing us 10-12ft of sea level rise over the next 50-200 years (only the timeframe, not the result, remains in question). We have officially lost our "shot at preventing devastating climate change".

We do, however, still have a shot at preventing the necessary abandonment of every major coastal city on the planet, by avoiding another 200ft of sea level rise that would result from the rest of Antarctica melting.

At this point, we need to stop asking how we can go green, and start planning for our new seaside vacation homes in Arizona.

Comment: Web programming sucks. (Score 1) 499

by Animats (#47417227) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

Ignoring the racist whining, he has a point. Web programming really sucks. Even web design sucks.

HTML started as a straightforward declarative layout language. Remember Dreamweaver? Macromedia's WYSIWYG editor for web pages. It was like using a word processor. You laid out a page, and it generated the page in HTML. It understood HTML, and you could read the page back in and edit it. Very straightforward. You didn't even have to look at the HTML. Back then, Netscape Navigator came with an HTML editor, too.

Then came CSS. DIV with float and clear as a primary formatting tool (a 1D concept and a huge step backwards from 2D tables), Javascript to patch the formatting problems of CSS, absolute positioning, Javascript to manage absolute positioning... The reaction to this mess was to layer "content management systems" on top of HTML, introducing another level of complexity and security holes. (Wordpress template attacks...)

It's as bad, if not worse, on the back end. No need to go into the details.

All this is being dumped on programmers, with the demand for "full-stack developers" who understand all the layers. Cheap full-stack developers. Usually for rather banal web sites.

Not only is this stuff unreasonably hard, it's boring. It's a turn-off for anyone with a life.

Comment: Re:Property Tax? (Score 1) 76

But the cost of providing those services isn't the same. First, the probability of a forest fire is roughly proportional to the area of land, because lightning doesn't care.

You are missing a key point. the land does not disappear if one person owns 50 acres or if 50 people own 1 acre each right next to each other. It is still there and still costs the same. Like you said, lightning doesn't care.

No, you are missing a key point. If it costs a million dollars to protect a city block that contains 50 homes, the cost per home is $20,000 per home. If it costs a million dollars to protect a city block that contains only one home, the cost per home is a million bucks. It is only fair that a homeowner in the second block should pay more, because the cost of defending his or her home is 50 times as much as the cost of defending a home in the first block. The more people that bear the burden, the less the burden for each person. This is just common sense.

Also, from a fire management perspective, the land does disappear if nobody builds on it. So that first house in a rural area imposes a much bigger burden on the system than subsequent homes. Unless there are homes that could eventually be at risk, modern fire management policies typically recommend letting forest fires burn themselves out. The reason fires get out of control is that we've spent decades over-managing forest fires, and we really need to stop doing that, or else they're just going to be worse the next time around.

Not really. Expensive homes are more likely to have high dollar security systems, cameras, and serial numbers recorded. Middle class homes would be a more probable target. Slums of course are still there as opportunity remains and according to the data, people with income of 7.500 or less are victims of theft and violent crimes like assault more than people with incomes over 75k.

Serial numbers don't make much difference if the person pawns it before you detect the theft. And security cameras don't help if the burglar knows they exist, because they'll just wear a mask to hide their faces, and park their car a block away or cover their plate.

Even things like utilities cost more for larger pieces of land, because the utility companies have to run their cables past your property to get to the next potential customer, and the longer your property is, the more it costs to do so. They only get one customer per property, so larger properties effectively raise the installation cost for everyone on your block.

They must do it different where you live. In my neck of the woods, the utility company will come a maximum of 25 feet into the property for their demarcation point. Anything after that and it is up to the property owner to run.

I'm talking about the length of the property, not the depth. And even for the depth, that's only true if there isn't a street behind you. Otherwise, at some point, they're going to have to make at least one run the entire depth of the piece of land to connect over to the next street. The cost to wire an area is proportional to the area. There's just no way to get around that. :-)

Only if you start with incorrect assumptions in the first place. But please tell me, how likely is it that someone would have a million dollar home on 50 acres of land with a falling down shack that someone thinks is stuffed full of goodies? The falling down shack is more likely on less expensive property or maintained. You see, rich people don't like looking at the trash we regular people have to put up with. The shack would likely either be repaired, removed, or replaced before it appears falling down.

Come again? As I said, house fires are inversely proportional to the cost of the home, which is precisely what you said while arguing with me....

Comment: Re:haven't we learned from the last 25 exploits? (Score 1) 67

by dgatwood (#47415511) Attached to: 'Rosetta Flash' Attack Leverages JSONP Callbacks To Steal Credentials

Nobody minds CSS much, so long as you don't allow embedding JavaScript URLs in it (which, unfortunately, browsers do).

The problem is not JavaScript, per se, so much as the fact that it is massively overused, breaking links, breaking back buttons, etc. Your documentation viewing experience does not demand a web app. It might benefit from some intelligent links that do special stuff if JS is enabled, but if you cannot make your site work with JS disabled, you're abusing JavaScript.

There are exceptions, mind you—sites where the core functionality is unavoidably tied to JavaScript (e.g. Google Docs). And I can even accept JavaScript for other content on that site that isn't tied to JavaScript, because after all, you can't avoid JS on such a site. The farther you get away from that scenario, the more annoying it is. And even on those sites, I expect the developers to have taken the time to ensure a good user experience—effort that, sadly, most web developers don't put in.

And yes, I've developed some pretty complex sites that use lots of JS code, but I've always made sure that at least the basic stuff doesn't require it, to the maximum extent practical.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 4, Insightful) 499

by pla (#47414925) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
"The web is just an enormous stack of kluges upon hacks upon misbegotten designs. This Archaeology of Errors is no place for the application programmers of old: it takes a skilled programmer with years of experience just to build simple applications on todayâ(TM)s web. What a waste. Twenty years of expediency has led the web into a technical debt crisis."

I know, right? We had it so much easier back when we could just write our own interrupt handler (and pray we didn't step on DRAM refresh or vice-versa) to pull bytes directly off the 8250 - And once we had those bytes, mwa-hahaha! We could write our own TCP stack and get the actual data the sender intended, and then do... something... with it that fit on a 40x25 monochrome text screen (yeah, I started late in the game, those bastards working with punchcards spoiled all the really easy stuff for me!).

And now look where we've gone: Anyone using just about any major platform today can fire up a text editor and write a complete moderately sophisticated web app in under an hour. Those poor, poor bastards. I don't know how I can sleep at night, knowing what my brethren have done to the poor wannabe-coders of today. Say, do I hear violins?

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